Shoot to kill or shoot to wound?

By Roy Bedard
for PoliceOne.com

The Czech Republic is one of the most modern countries in the former communist block, and is quickly becoming a recognized leader in the global law enforcement profession. They are considered quite modern and up to date on western theory, technology, and applications. They produce one of the world’s finest firearms, and are great contributors to the advancement of law enforcement methodologies. Not long ago, while I was giving presentations in the Czech Republic, I was confronted by an unusual perspective that has comparative value to our system of policing here in the United States.

A group of police officers had invited me to visit their police firing range, a modern indoor facility on academy property. The firing range was beautiful — well constructed with proper protective devices in place. Full body silhouette targets could be easily changed behind the hot line, and mechanically sent to various distances. There were men and women in-service who were qualifying with their Czech pistols.

When the signal was given to fire a large plume of smoke arose from the line. During the first volley each officer shot about four or five rounds. I squinted my eyes and looked downrange. Though born with poor vision, my eyes were good enough to see that not one single target had a bullet hole in center mass. Then, scanning the targets more closely I saw what appeared to be holes — lots of holes — in the legs of the target.

“My God,” I thought to myself, “this cannot be coincidence.”

I looked over my shoulder to the range master, who was preparing for the next sequence. “Why are they shooting in the legs?” I said, half smiling, trying to approach the question casually.

“This was a non-lethal drill,” he said without hesitation.

I felt like a fish out of water. I was startled by his answer. It no sense to me. “But if you are shooting at them, how is it a non-lethal drill?”

Looking at me as strangely as I was looking at him, he replied, “We shoot in the extremities, to wound them.”

We’d a reached an impasse on the issue, so we dropped it and the drills continued.

During lunch, I sat with the trainer and reopened the conversation.

“So tell me again about shooting in the legs?”

“Oh, I forgot, you are an American. You kill everyone!”

Visit PoliceOne.com to read the rest of the second part of an excellent three-part series that challenges cultural differences in police methodologies.

One thought on “Shoot to kill or shoot to wound?”

  1. This very interesting post corrects the widespread idea
    that non-lethal shooting only happens in Hollywood movies,
    and raises questions not only about usual policing, but
    about such extraordinary operations as the raid to capture
    international terrorist and mass murderer Osama bin Laden.
    Reports now indicate that he was “unarmed,” although he
    “resisted” and there were weapons within his reach. Since a
    woman in the same room was in fact shot in the leg and
    survived, reportedly when she rushed at the raiders, this
    suggests that preemptive nonlethal force might likewise
    have been used to immobilize and subdue Osama bin Laden
    himself and take him into custody to be tried and
    imprisoned for the rest of his life. One wonders how Czech
    police officers might have handled the situation.

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